LESS than four years ago, the biggest player in Bournemouth’s nightclub scene was in administration.
Yet last week, the Luminar Group revealed how far its fortunes had been turned around.
Annual profits had risen by 50 per cent, following heavy investment in its venues, and its 53 nightclubs had delivered a pre-tax profit of £3.4m in its second full year of trading under new management.
Its regional operations director for the south, Ged Gorrie, said a strategy was paying off. “We have a clear plan in place to continue to position Luminar as the best nightclub operator in the UK,” he said.
Luminar slid into admini-stration in October 2011 after breaching its banking covenants.
Its lenders had previously waived those covenants to give itself time to turn itself around.
The company’s core market of 18 to 24 year-olds had been hit by youth unemployment, while the smoking ban and later opening at pubs were also said to have hurt the business.
It recorded losses of £198m in the year ending February 2011.
It was bought in a £45m deal by a trio of leisure specialists.
Mr Gorrie, pictured, said: “We embarked on a robust investment programme and we continue to invest in our existing units. Our aim was to reduce the age of our estate since refurbishment to three years.
“We inherited an awful lot of business that hadn’t been refurbished for many years and were in a dilapidated state.
“The one in Bournemouth was in a bit of a state when we got hold of it in 2011 and it’s now a fabulous place.”
The Bournemouth club, in Fir Vale Road, was then called Lava & Ignite, but in 2013 it became Cameo and Mya Bar, following a £1m refurbishment which created 35 jobs.
It includes four rooms playing different styles of music, with new private booths.
“Tastes change. We’ve found a big demand for private booths and seats. We’ve managed to get an awful lot of them in our clubs,” said Mr Gorrie.
A neighbouring property, formerly owned by Richard Carr as Slam and Urban, is be developed into a connected Luminar venue.
“It will have a more retro theme, which Bournemouth doesn’t have.
“Most towns and cities have some kind of retro 1970s, ’80s, ’90s cheesy bar,” said Mr Gorrie.
Innovations in recent times have included an award-winning app called X-press Drinks, which allows customers to order their drinks via their smartphones and have them delivered to their tables.
“We’re just trying to get in touch with technology and offer our customers a little bit more of an experience,” said Mr Gorrie.
He added. “In every sector, it’s the strongest that survive. We’ve spent a lot of time finding out what our customers want.
“We think there’s a very good future in nightclubs. We think it’s gone through its pain and I think it’s emerging leaner and fitter out of the other side.”